Bistrita, Abbey of

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Name of two abbeys in Romania.

The one in Moldavia, district of Neamt, was founded in 1420 by Prince Alexander the Good and richly endowed with land and privileges by him and his wife, both of whom are buried there. The bell tower was built by Stephen the Great in 1498; it contains a small chapel, where beautiful 16th-century frescoes of pure Moldavian art were discovered in 1924. The principal church was completely reconstructed by Alexander Lapusneanu in 1554, with the help of Venetian architects and painters. Traces of ancient frescoes may still be seen in its cupola and vestibule.

The Abbey of Bistrita in Wallachia, district of Vilcea, was built in 1487 in a Serbo-Byzantine style by the brothers Craiovescu (Barbu, Pârvu, Danciu, Radu, Preda, and Mircea), sons of a boyar from Craiova. Radu purchased and transferred there the relics of St. Gregory the Decapolite. The monastery was restored in 1600 by the Moldavian Prince George Brâncoveanu. Having fallen into ruins, the church was demolished and completely re-built by German architects in 1856. An inscription with the name of the original architect, Mane mester, is preserved in the sculptured frame of its main entrance. The abbey had been a great center of Slavic studies and possessed many manuscripts; those preserved are now in the museum of Bucharest.

Bibliography: n. iorga, Istoria bisericii românesti, 2 v. (2d ed. Bucharest 192932); and g. bals, Histoire de l'art roumain ancien (Paris 1922). Enciclopedia româniei, 4 v. (Bucharest 193643) 2:305306, 506.

[t. fotitch]